Thursday, November 02, 2006

Math Intuition

I always bite my tongue when people say that they are bad at math because they are intuitive by nature. How do they think that the breakthroughs in math are achieved?

This actually happened at dinner last night. The three of us were sitting around, eating and talking with our mouths full (because we were in our private home and not out in public). Iris talked about her upcoming birthday and how she would be SIX.

I asked, "do you know what the factors of 6 are?" and proceeded to tell her that the factors of a number are all the numbers that can be multiplied to make a given number. I gave the factors of 12 and 4 as examples and asked her to tell me the factors of 6.

She got them right. Then she stated, "I know the factors of zero."

"Oh?"

"Yes, the factors of zero are every number because every number multiplied by zero is zero!"

She further mused, "Are the negative numbers also factors of zero?"

Wow. 6 years ago, I became a mother to this wonder.

Ask Dr. Math explains the factors of zero in further detail.

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